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Cannon, G. L. (1906)

Sauropodan Gastroliths.

Science. N. S. 24(604):116.

(Issue of July 27, 1906)


Copyright 2003-2009 by Mike Everhart

ePage created 10/23/2003; updated 02/13/2009




LEFT: Photo by Roland T. Bird of gastroliths "between the ribs and the pelvis" of a sauropod dinosaur from the Howe Quarry. (From his book, "Bones for Barnum Brown")

Wherein, Mr. Cannon describes the discovery of gastroliths in a sauropod dinosaur specimen from Colorado.  The discovery was witnessed by Professor Benjamin Mudge and his student at the time, Samuel Williston, both of whom were familiar with gastroliths they had found in association with plesiosaur remains in Kansas. Mudge (1877) had noted the discovery of a plesiosaur where "between the ribs, in the cavity of the stomach were found well worn, siliceous pebbles, from one-fourth to one-half inch in diameter; aids to digestion similar to those found of some reptiles and birds now existing."

116      SCIENCE       [N. S. Vol. XXIV, No. 604

     TO THE EDITOR OF SCIENCE: It may be of interest in connection with Mr. G. R. Wieland's recent description of the gastroliths found with the sauropod remains in Montana, to call attention to an apparently unrecorded similar discovery at Morrison, Colo. In 1877, Professor O. C. Marsh's party, in charge of Professor Arthur Lakes, obtained among the bones of the type specimen of Atlantosaurus immanus Marsh, a number of siliceous pebbles whose surface peculiarities resembled those of the gastroliths described by Mr. Wieland. No material of similar size, form, surface markings or composition occurs elsewhere in the Atlantosaurus clays of this vicinity. Professor's B. F. Mudge and S. W. Williston were with us when some of these pebbles were found and considered them to be identical in origin with the stomach stones that they had recently found with plesiosaurian remains on the plains of Kansas. With the exception of one specimen now in the collection of fossils in the Denver High School, these specimens were probably sent to the Peabody Museum of the Yale University and might be found in the collections sent to Professor Marsh by Professors Lakes and Mudge from the neighborhood of the Morrison during the years 1877 and 1878. The field notes of Messrs. Lakes, Mudge and Williston, if obtainable, might afford additional data and possibly confirm a suspicion of the writer that some gastroliths were also found in connection with the type specimen of the species formally known as Apatosaurus ajax Marsh.

                                                  GEO. L. CANNON


Suggested References:

Bird, R. T. 1985. Bones for Barnum Brown: Adventures of a dinosaur hunter. Texas Christian University Press, Fort Worth, TX, 225 pp.

Brown, B., 1904. Stomach stones and the food of plesiosaurs. Science, 20(501):184-185. (Gastroliths mixed with stomach contents in plesiosaurs)

Cicimurri, D. J. and M. J. Everhart. 2001. An elasmosaur with stomach contents and gastroliths from the Pierre Shale (late Cretaceous) of Kansas. Kansas Academy  of Science, Transactions 104(3-4):129-143.

Eastman, C. R., 1904. A recent paleontological induction. Science, N. S. 20(510):465-466.  (Eastman attacks Brown's ideas (above) on gastroliths)

Everhart, M. J. 2000.  Gastroliths associated with plesiosaur remains in the Sharon Springs Member of the Pierre Shale (late Cretaceous), western Kansas. Kansas Academy of Science, Transactions 103(1-2):58-69.

Moodie, R. L., 1912. The "stomach stones" of reptiles. Science 35(897)377-378.

Mudge, B. F. 1877. Notes on the Tertiary and Cretaceous periods of Kansas. pp. 277-294, in Part I (Geology) of the Ninth Annual Report, U. S. Geological and Geographical Survey of the Territories (Hayden), for 1875, 827 p.

Williston, S. W. 1893. An interesting food habit of the plesiosaurs. Kansas Academy Science, Transactions 13:121-122, 1 plate.

Credits: Earl Manning, Tulane University, provided a copy of this article.